The U.S. Air Force is expected to buy 80 to 100 bombers B-3 ( top-secret Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B)). Northrup Grumman is competing against Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which have partnered up to be the primary contractor for the LRS-B. The contract is likely to be awarded in September, according to military.com.
Research-and-Development costs alone are estimated to be around $25 billion, although the bomber is supposed to mainly be built from existing technologies, saving the R&D expenditures associated with new hardware and software.
Acquisition experts anticipate costs for the LRS-B to rise over the next few years. “The B-2 was promised initially at $525 million [per plane] and eventually came in around $2 billion,” noted T.X. Hammes, a research fellow at the National Defense University. “I think we can kind of expect the same pattern unless we think suddenly we’re going to break 70 years of aircraft development [trends] and the next one is going to be cheaper than the previous model.”
The costs of the top-secret Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B)–likely to be designated B-3–have gone up due to a calculation error, according to the U.S. Air Force. The 2014 Department of Defense’s ten-year budget estimate for fiscal years 2015-2025 for the bomber program was $33.1 billion. This year’s estimate for fiscal years 2016-2026 jumped up to $58.4 billion.